Smith River

A self-guided adventure on the Smith River that can be done in a day!

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The Smith River is an amazing float to do in March. Just wear a wet suit! From the Rogue Valley, the popular put – ins on the Smith River are roughly two hours away. This makes a perfect day trip for those Rogue rafters that are looking for some new scenery. Hiochi, California hosts several experienced river guides and very inexpensive and reliable shuttle drivers.

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I would not consider myself a expert rafter. I took on the Middle Fork of the Smith River this March (2016). I wore a wet suit, wet suit socks and boots, a long sleeve running shirt, and a wind breaker. I added a signal mirror and a knife to my life jacket. It rained a few times during the 3 hour float, and I was comfortable. I chose to float from Slant Bridge to Ruby Deventer State Park.

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The color of the Smith at higher water in Spring is a spectacular emerald green. Water flows in from drainages throughout the float creating many picture perfect moments. As the water drops, the Smith River is the clearest navigable waterway in the Pacific Northwest.

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This section of the Middle Fork of the Smith River offers Class II – III (-), which is quite thrilling when you are less experienced on white water. I did this mission as a self-guided trip, but the Smith River offers up to Class IV rapids in different sections, including the world class Oregon Hole Gorge!

To choose a Smith River float that is right for you, there is a very informational online article by Flow State about your options for Smith River trips. However, most helpful was the information and shuttle service offered by Brad “Bearfoot” Camden of Hiochi, California. He is the all around river guide that can give you the information you need to choose the perfect Smith River trip. Brad is very well known and his shuttle rates are extremely affordable. I paid $50 for a  shuttle and received invaluable information about the Smith River for free. Brad is also very involved in preserving the Smith River and involved tributaries that are under attack from a proposed Nickel mining operation.  Outside Magazine did an article on Bearfoot Brad and the importance of preserving these waters. Find Brad Camden on Facebook to sign a petition as soon as possible. And get out there . . . the Smith River is waiting!

Mary Jane Feetham

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